Description: Small trees, shrubs, herbs or twiners.
Leaves simple, alternate, rarely opposite or in whorls, entire, sometimes caducous or reduced to scales.
Inflorescences usually terminal or axillary racemes, or terminal panicles or densely fasciculate. Flowers zygomorphic, bisexual, 3- or 5-merous. Sepals 5, imbricate, free or with the lower two united or rarely all united into a tube, subequal or with the two inner ones large and wing-like and often petal-like. Corolla of 3 or 5 petals, petals free or variously united, frequently fused to base of and/or variously combined with staminal tube; lower petal often keel-like, and usually lobed or pouched. Stamens usually 8 or fewer; anthers basifixed, 1- or 2-locular, opening by a single apical pore or longitudinal slit. Ovary superior, usually 2-locular; style often variously dilated or lobed at apex; ovules one sometimes more per loculus.
Fruit a laterally compressed capsule [or rarely a nut or drupe], often winged, occasionally fleshy with one or more seeds.
Distribution and occurrence: World: 18 genera, >1000 species, cosmopolitan. Australia: 4 genera, c. 40 species, all States.
Angiosperm Phylogeny Website (Family: Polygalaceae, Order: Fabales)
Text by L. Murray
| ||Key to the genera|| |
|1||Leaves alternate or occasionally opposite or in whorls; sepals unequal, 2 inner ones large and wing-like; stamens 8, anthers opening by apical pores||2|
|Leaves clustered on short axillary shoots; sepals almost equal, 2 inner ones larger but not wing-like; stamens 7, anthers opening by longitudinal slits||Muraltia|
|2||Leaves always alternate, often caducous or reduced to scales; capsule cuneate and narrowed at base, rarely circular; seeds without caruncle, with hairs lengthening into a coma||Comesperma|
|Leaves alternate or occasionally opposite or in whorls, rarely caducous or reduced to scales; capsule obovate, obcordate, ovate or circular; seeds with caruncle, with hairs not lengthening into a coma|
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